If you’re over 40, you’re probably familiar with presbyopia, the gradual loss of the ability to see things clearly when they are close to your eyes. Also called “old eyes” or “age-related blurry near vision”, this extremely common condition affects more than 85% of people in this age group to some degree. Presbyopia is not a disease; it is a natural and gradual vision change due to the aging of the lenses in our eyes.
When we are young, the lenses in our eyes are soft and flexible. They change shape quickly and easily, which is how we can focus on objects both close to us and far away without even thinking about it. After we hit the magic age of 40, however, most of us begin to notice it’s harder to see clearly at close range, due to a lack of flexibility and increased rigidity of our lenses. Almost everyone will experience some level of presbyopia as they age. Presbyopia cannot be cured, but it can be managed with corrective lenses or conductive keratoplasty, a non-invasive procedure that uses radio waves to reshape the cornea, or multifocal intraocular lenses, which replace natural lenses after cataract removal.
But for those of us who find wearing glasses frustrating and surgery out of reach, another option has come on the scene that is changing the outlook for those with presbyopia. In October of 2021, Allergan released Vuity eye drops, which are specially designed to help the over 40 crowd see more clearly without vision correction. Applied first thing in the morning, it usually takes about 15 minutes for the drops to take effect.
Vuity works by stimulating activity in the tiny muscles in our eyes that help the lenses adjust when we focus on objects that are either farther away from us or closer to us. One muscle changes the shape of the lens while the other shrinks the pupil. When the pupil is smaller, the depth of focus increases and it is easier to see objects (and printed words!) that are closer to your eyes.
While the best results are often found in younger patients without the need for major magnifiers to correct their vision, most people with some flexibility in their lenses can find benefits in the treatment. For example, someone who is 43 years old and wears reading glasses with a power of 1.50 will usually see more improvement than someone who is 55 years old and wears 2.50 power reading glasses.
The effects of the treatment are strongest for the six hours immediately after application, and they will slowly fade for the next four hours or so after that initial six-hour period. The combination of the degree and length of time of vision improvement can vary considerably from person to person. Our 40-something may get six hours of the ability to read smaller print (such as the print on a medicine bottle) without glasses, while our 50-something may be able to read a price tag without glasses during the first six hours. Because it’s designed to be used once a day, many users find that as the end of the day approaches, they’re picking up their reading glasses again.
While most people can use Vuity without concern, some mild side effects have been reported. The most common are headaches, a slight burning when the drops are applied, and eye redness, all of which usually decrease significantly after the first week of use. Many eye doctors are cautious when prescribing it to people with a high degree of myopia. Those who are very nearsighted (or who have had previous Lasik surgery for extreme myopia) may be at increased risk for retinal detachment when using the primary ingredient in Vuity, pilocarpine. Your optometrist will require a vision exam to accurately gauge the amount of myopia you may have before prescribing Vuity. It also isn’t recommended that you depend on Vuity drops to improve your night vision when you’re driving. Because the muscles in your eyes are being affected by the drug, it takes significantly longer for the pupils of your eyes to expand enough to let sufficient light in, reducing your night vision. And if you wear contact lenses, it’s important to remove them before using Vuity, and to wait at least ten minutes before putting them back in again.
Vuity is not covered by your insurance, but pharmaceutical discount programs such as GoodRX will provide more affordable treatment.
If you’re anxious to ditch your readers for a good part of your day, now is the time to schedule a consultation with your favorite Houston eye doctor. And don’t forget to check out our latest high-fashion designer frames as well – with Pro-Optix Eye Care in your corner, you can love your look at any time of the day. Call 713-360-7095 to book your vision test today!